Sunday, May 26, 2019
   
Text Size

Site Search powered by Ajax

On Being Hunted by a Lion, Part 1

It is important we are prepared for the one who stalks us as believers. We must know his ways, our defense, our company, and our promises.

When I was growing up, hunting was a big deal in my hometown. I never really got into the whole scene, except for hunting rats and rabbits. As kids, we would go to the dump at dusk with flashlights and .22 rifles. One person would shine the light on the garbage, while the others had their guns up to their shoulders ready to fire. The rat would stick its head out of the garbage; and when the light shone on its eyes, you could see its reflection and would empty your gun. I used to love doing that. I hate rats with a passion, and the adrenaline rush I got shooting those critters was great. The aftermath was that your clothes and hands would smell like garbage, and it was hard to get the smell out when you got home. For awhile, though, it was great. (That’s a great picture of the pleasures of sin being only for a season.)

For a time, the farmers of Quincy were overrun with jackrabbits eating their crops. They used to welcome people coming out there and shooting the rabbits. I never hit any of them; they were way too fast. But it was fun trying.

We also had B.B. gun fights as kids—not a smart thing to do. It’s a wonder someone wasn’t seriously hurt. I remember we divided up into two teams. Johnny Kelleher said, "Okay, no more shooting above the waist." Well, I wasn’t a very good shot (or maybe I was), but whatever the case, he stuck his head out around a building and I shot out his tooth. He wasn’t very happy with me, and I felt terrible.

On another occasion my brother and I were walking up into the mountains and heard this "pinging" noise a few feet in front of us. We soon discovered someone was shooting at us—but it wasn’t with B.Bs. Now that was an entirely different feeling than shooting rats and rabbits. Here we were being pursued.

(Aren’t you glad I became a Christian? I don’t want to know what I would be like today!)

We are faced in Scripture with the reality of being not the hunter, but the hunted. This is an experience we will all face, whether we want to or not. Whether we like it or not, we are being hunted. The passage we will look at makes it clear we have an enemy who is stalking us, seeking to devour us: the enemy of our souls. First John 2:13b states, however, that a person growing into maturity can do something about this evil foe.

"I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one"—v. 13b.

 

It is that third characteristic (overcoming the evil one) that I want to concentrate on for a few lessons. An immature believer flees from certain evils (1 Cor. 6:18; 10:14; 1 Tim. 6:11; 2 Tim. 2:22), but nowhere is he told to flee from the devil. That would be a futile effort. As believers, we have many options and promises available to us, as we shall see. Turn to 1 Peter 5:8-11.

"Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen."

 

Peter begins this section with a two-fold warning to:

Prepare yourself.

Be self-controlled—v. 8a. This represents a continuing/habitual state, denoting a condition free from every form of mental and spiritual loss of self-control. It’s the attitude of self-discipline: a calm, steady state of mind that is not thrown off balance by new and fascinating ideas. It’s levelheadedness.

"‘Be self-controlled’ forbids not only physical drunkenness, but also letting the mind wander into any kind of mental intoxication which might inhibit spiritual alertness... A lack of self-control would be any kind of laziness of the mind which lulls a believer into sin through carelessness""—Tyndale, p. 76.

Peter knew, as we should, that a believer can lose his/her spiritual concentration through mental intoxication with things found in the world—Mk. 4:19; Col. 3:2-3; 1 John 2:15-17. A lot of good things can be potentially dangerous and intoxicating, e.g., career, possessions, recreation, reputation, friendship, scholarship, etc. Our source of self-control, however, is the Spirit of Christ—Gal. 5:22-25.

Be alert.

 

This word indicates a need for spiritual alertness. The idea is to watch for (be alert to) sin/attacks of evil (Acts 20:31; Col. 4:2). Jesus tried to emphasize this to the disciples in the Garden—Mt. 26:38, 40-41. The opposite of this type of spiritual alertness is spiritual drowsiness, where a believer responds no differently than an unbeliever. When we get slothful, we are at that moment in danger.

 

What’s out there? What is pursuing us? Peter tells us to

Prepare for the one who is stalking us

( v. 8b—"Your enemy, the devil...")

Know his names.

Three words identify the one pursuing us—enemy, devil, and lion. We should understand these descriptions.

 

Enemy

This term literally means "your opponent in a lawsuit"—Zech. 3:1; Matt. 6:25; Lk. 12:58. Here, however, it has the more general meaning of an enemy. Applied to the devil, it is appropriate because Satan appears before God as an accuser of believers—Rev. 12:10; Job 1:6. This term is the equivalent of the Hebrew, Satan.

Devil

"Devil" literally means "slanderer"—one who deliberately puts forth false charges against believers (John 8:44).

 

Lion

This describes our enemy’s fierce and determined activity. The word "like" shows us that his true character is as a vicious beast.

 

If we look at all three of them together, we get a helpful picture:

Enemy/devil/lion

Enemy expresses the hostility of Satan toward every aspect of the Christian life, and how he will constantly use what we do or haven’t done to accuse us. Devil points out the favorite method he uses to slander us. Lion makes it clear his attacks will be fierce and vicious.

I think it’s obvious Peter had no doubt about the existence of a personal devil, nor did he have any questions about how vicious his accusation and slander would be. I really believe an awareness of our enemy and his methods is essential for victory. We do have personal responsibility for our own actions, but we are to also contend with the world, and the enemy of our soul (Eph. 2:1-3).

 

So that we won’t become a prey to his attacks by disbelief or lack of self-control and alertness, then, it’s extremely important we have some understanding of what Satan does, i.e., how he attacks. We need to:

Know his ways/tactics.

v. 8b—"Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour."

 

Notice the word "like." One interesting way to study Satan is through the study of lions. We might even observe their ways in the wild to get a picture of what Peter is saying here. Most of us do not have the same kind of picture that the original readers had of what a lion was like (e.g., how it stalked its prey), so let’s take a few minutes and study a lion’s tactics

 

A study of this passage in 1 Peter reveals some of Satan’s tactics:

 

Prowls

This is a picture of restlessness. The devil is in a restless search for victims. Job 1:7—"The Lord said to Satan, 'Where have you come from?' Satan answered the Lord, 'From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.' " This is a picture of Satan prowling.

Looking for

This expresses a persistent search (it has a present active participle).

 

Devour

This expresses deadly action, and means to swallow something. Like our English, it means to gulp down. It depicts the destruction of the victim. Remember, Satan isn’t interested merely in harassing or injuring someone; his true desire is to kill his victim through whatever means or agent available to him.

Roar

This describes the noise he makes, more often designed to scare and frighten. It pictures him as hungry, and intent on capturing his prey.

Let's note specifically the similarities to Satan’s ways/tactics—Mk. 1:24; 5:2-5; 9:18; Acts 16:16-18; Rev. 2:10.

  1. Like a lion, he and his emissaries prowl around us. Satan looks for opportunities to spread/advocate false doctrines. Jude 4—"For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord." Satan looks for opportunities to accuse us and to lie about us—John 8:44; Acts 16:16-22.

    John 8:44—"You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies."

     

  2. Like a lion, he roars seeking to scare us and divide us—Jude 19. "These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit." Satan tries to frighten or control by a sudden onslaught of emotion—fear, hatred, anxiety, violent anger.

     

  3. Like a lion, he also looks for someone to devour. He tries to kill with words, i.e., slander, lies—Jude 10,16; John 8:44; 1 John 4:1-3

    Jude 10—"Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals—these are the very things that destroy them."

    Jude 16—"These men are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage."

     

    He tries to trap people in self-destructive behavior—Mk. 5:5; 9:20.

    Mark 5:3—"This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. 4] For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. 5] Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones."

     

  4. Like a lion, he has other tactics suitable for his prey:
  • Uses many schemes—2 Cor. 2:11; Eph. 6:11
  • Uses some illnesses—Job 2:7; Lk. 13:16; Acts 10:38; 2 Cor. 12:7
  • Tempts often—Matt. 16:23; Acts 5:3; 1 Thess. 3:5
  • Tries to keep us from the Scripture or perverts the Scripture—Matt. 13:19; 4:6
  • Persecutes the Church—Rev. 2:10; Acts 8:1-3
  • Thwarts the spread of the gospel—1 Thess. 2:18; 2 Cor. 4:3-4
  • Sifts believers—Luke 22:31
  • Traps people—1 Tim. 3:7; 2 Tim. 2:26
  • Blinds unbelievers—2 Cor. 4:4
  • Uses counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders are used—2 Thess. 2:9
  • Commonly uses deception—2 Thess. 2:10; Rev. 20:7-8; 2 Tim. 3:8-9

This may all sound pretty awesome and scary to you, but remember 1 John 4:4—"You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world."

There are many stories in the Bible and in our experience about the roaring lion we face. Here are a few examples:

  1. A number of years ago we had a young lady here who was given over to "spirit dancing and writing," but this wasn’t the Holy Spirit. One of us led in setting her free from this demonic possession. I and one other person were then given the responsibility of burning the tarot cards and the reams of paper she had written under the influence of this demon. We burned the material in the church offices, and I have to admit, I was pumped up. But when it was over, I was so exhausted, I could hardly keep my head up. I went home and slept for hours. I had to remind myself during that time that I had no reason to be frightened. It could easily have become a scary time, rather than a time of rejoicing.

     

  2. Paul wrote the Thessalonians (1 Thess. 3:5) of his concern: ". . . I was afraid that in some way the tempter might have tempted you and our efforts might have been useless." He was unable to get to Thessalonica because Satan prevented him. (1 Thess. 2:18—"For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, did, again and again—but Satan stopped us.") Because Satan stopped Paul from going to see the Thessalonians, however, Paul sent Timothy instead—3:1-5. When Paul found out how the Thessalonians were doing by Timothy’s report (3:6); he was encouraged (v. 7); God received thanksgiving (v. 8a); Paul had great joy (v. 8b); and the Thessalonians received more earnest prayer for them (vv. 10-13). We may have to find another way to get done what we are called to do, but if God is in it, the result will be as good or better than our original intent.

     

  3. Satan sent a messenger (a "thorn in the flesh") to torment Paul, which he wrote of in 2 Cor. 12:7-10. Certainly this was not viewed as a good thing at face value, but God used the thorn to keep Paul from being conceited (v. 7), and to keep him strong even in weakness (v. 9). Satan might send someone, or a circumstance, to inflict us with pain, but that can provide an unusual experience to receive the Lord’s power and provide an occasion to grow stronger.
  4. 2 Cor. 12:8-10—"Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9] But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10] That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

     

     

  5. Satan's influence shows up even in the case study of a church in Romans 16:17-20—"I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. 18] For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people. 19] Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I am full of joy over you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil. 20] The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you."

     

  6. This week I received a call from a little mining town in Idaho, population 1700. The woman was such a wonderful lady, in charge of choosing a new pastor for the church of around 35 people. I felt so bad for her, because they were having a church fight. Just when the worship service was over, two rows of people would leave just before the teaching, because they were unhappy at the way the church was choosing a pastor. It was their way of protesting. In a church that small, you can imagine what kind of problems this division was causing the church.

     

What was behind it all? What’s the warning? Look at Rom. 16:17. "...watch out. . . keep away from them."—Rom 16:17. The warning is very similar to 1 Pet. 5:8. We are to watch for

  • Those who cause division
  • Those who put obstacles in our way that are contrary to what we have been taught.

The truth is, 18] "For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people." The caution is, 19] "Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I am full of joy over you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil." We can understand the enemy’s tactics and yet stay innocent about evil. We don’t have to experience it to be wise about evil. It’s okay to study our enemy. The promise is: 20] "The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you."

Do you see how the division, smooth talk, flattery, and deception will be dealt with by God? With that in mind, return to 1 Peter 5:9.

Know your defense.

1 Pet. 5:9a—"Resist him, standing firm in the faith. . . "

This is such an encouraging verse, for it reminds us that proper resistance will be successful and implies that to cower before Satan and his attack is to invite sure defeat. Tyndale writes, "It’s wrong to ignore the devil’s existence, and it is wrong to cower in fear."—Tyndale, p. 197.

"Resist" means to stand against. It’s a military term that implies a defiant act. It is active determined opposition, often through confrontation. Therefore, Christians are to take a solid stand in opposition to the devil as their true enemy. Other Scriptures affirm this stand—James 4:7; Eph. 6:10-18.

James 4:7—"Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."

The resistance, however, must be in faith—"standing firm in the faith." Our firm faith is the condition for our victory, which is not assured by just being tough, but lies in our faith in what Christ accomplished on the cross where the devil was defeated—John 12:31-33; Col. 2:13-15 (esp. verse 15); Heb. 2:14-15.

Col. 2:13-15—"When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14] having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. 15] And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross."

"Victory over Satan lies in faith, because faith unites us to Christ, the victor. By faith, the devil is driven to flight as is the lion by fire." 1 Peter, Heibert, page 316.

Our victory will therefore be assured as we in faith use the weapons and the resources available to us in Christ

  1. prayer
  2. the word of God
  3. the help of other believers
  4. verbal rebuke of the enemy
  5. the whole armor of God, etc.—Lk. 10:17-20; Acts 16:18; Eph. 6:10-20.

 

Peter offers some emotional support as well, by drawing our attention to who is in this battle with us. It’s so helpful to:

Know our company.

v. 9b—"Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings."

 

This reminds us that suffering and trouble are an inseparable part of our Christian life in a world that rejects Christ. The use of the words "your brothers" reminds us that we are not in this battle alone. As believers, we share together in the brotherhood of suffering and will share in the present and future joy of the brotherhood as well. John 16:33

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

In a wonderful conclusion to this section, Peter reminds us of the promises we have in the warfare, the struggles, and the sufferings we go through. We must all:

Know our promises.

v. 10]—"And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast."

 

Notice the One who promised.

This assurance is grounded in the character and resources of God.

Notice the goal of the One who promised.

v. 10b—". . .after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast."

This statement about suffering "a little while" is intentionally vague in the amount of time it implies—it could be in this life or the life to come. There isn’t any time frame guaranteed for the suffering. Whatever the case, it is in contrast to "his eternal glory in Christ..."

 

Four promises are given here. He will...

  • Restore you—implies setting right what has gone wrong, to be fully prepared and complete with respect to any resource or ability which you might have lost through suffering, warfare, and struggle in Christ.
  • Make you strong—means "to fix, to make firm or solid and denotes the stabilizing of something by providing a support so it will not totter"—1 Peter, Hiebert, p. 319.
  • Make you firm—to impart strength to make strong, so that one will have the strength to face a roaring lion.
  • Make you steadfast— means to lay the foundation. This refers to a secure foundation to which something rests.

 

God will supply what is needed so that believers will not topple, fall, or sink.

 

Notice the One to praise.

v. 11—"To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen." This doxology looks to God’s power and rule over the whole earth. To him we will give the strength, no matter how fierce the battle might be, because He has the power for ever and ever.

 

Perspective to Guide You

Here’s what we must keep in mind, then... before, during, and after a lion attack.

  • Satan will use a variety of overt and covert tactics with us.
  • Satan will also use people and circumstances to get at us.
  • But God will use any attack of Satan to test, reveal, and strengthen us.
  • "If God is against us, it doesn’t matter who is for us"—Jerry Cook.
  • ."If God is for us, who can be against us"?—Rom. 8:31b.

Here’s the promise: when we get into the battle, there are times when we will feel very weak; our faith and this passage tells us that our God will bring us through.

 

10] "And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast."